ARE PARENTAL ALIENATION CASES SIMPLE?
Right at the beginning of my case, I suggested to the judge that my case was simple. He agreed. Either my ex was turning my child against me and trying to destroy his relationship with me, or she was not. Either she was a malignant narcissist trying her utmost to hurt me, not caring about hurting our child in the process, or I was a paranoid fantasist and possibly a dangerous individual from whom my child needed protecting. For me, it would be a ‘simple’ matter of putting her in the witness box. Her lies would be easily exposed.
Two years have passed, and still I have not seen my son…And my ex has still been nowhere near a witness box.
There are some cases where the alienation is justified, because the TP has done something wrong. BUT these are excluded, by our definition of PA:
“A process, and the result of, the psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted [STOPPA’s emphasis] fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent or other members of the family”
Then, there are cases where the AP is doing the alienation negligently or accidentally. This, seemingly, may involve the AP just being a bit thick, or perhaps deluded. Somehow, this person does not realise that more subtle methods of alienation have an effect too – rolling their eyes at the mention of the TP, talking in a derogatory way about TP within the child’s earshot, asking the child to phone the AP as soon as the child gets to the TP’s house, asking the child if he will be ‘alright’ going to the TP’s house etc etc. Does anyone really believe that this is all ‘innocent?’ And, even if someone does believe this, it is still behaviour that has to stop, isn’t it? The AP needs educating. Or maybe somehow the AP has become genuinely worried (albeit with no rational basis) that TP is someone from whom the child should be protected (in which case the AP, again, needs educating). STOPPA doubts that many APs who do this are genuinely deluded or insensitive to their results of their acts and omissions. That is woolly-headed nonsense.
We can get rid of these types of case.
The PA cases we are talking about here are those where the TP has done nothing (substantially) wrong, and where AP knows exactly what he or she is doing. Let us call these ‘pure’ cases, or ‘type 1 cases’. Some experts feel that all PA cases are like this. Other experts think that type 1 cases comprise only a proportion of all PA cases. STOPPA does not care. Experts can argue about this – it’s not for us.
For our purposes, here, we are talking only about type 1 cases and asking why the courts cannot get even these ‘simple’ cases right.
So, if PA cases are simple WHO has an incentive to tell us differently?
Well, CAFCASS for a start.
If PA cases are simple and CAFCASS still cannot spot them (despite having a specific tool for the job), that makes CAFCASS utterly incompetent, does it not?
So, of course PA cases MUST be complicated, right?!
Well, if PA cases were simple, you wouldn’t need to spend £5k on an expert’s report, would you?
Same rule as experts, but with more £s.
Judges…hmm…this is an interesting one. If you listen to some judges, like HH Judge Stephen Wildblood, you would be forgiven for thinking that judges ‘get’ PA. Well, either they do, or they do not.
Possibility A – Judges do not get PA
STOPPA thinks that this possibility can be discounted without too much difficulty, and STOPPA is inclined to accept Judge Wildblood’s assertions here. The simple fact is that judges are very experienced – they see these cases all day, every day, across the length and breadth of the UK. One needs only a very cursory glance at the decided cases, to come to this view.
Further, PA can be explained in about 5 minutes to an intelligent ignoramus. Judges are much better-placed than that.
Possibility B – Judges get PA
OK, so judges understand PA. Yet, look at the cases. With or without lawyers, McKenzie friends or LIPs, these cases drag on for years.
Who has the power? Who has control of the cases? Who manages the cases?
So, our initial conclusion is this:
Judges have the power to manage PA cases properly, swiftly and effectively. Yet they do not do so.
Why do judges handle cases so badly?
Your comments and theories are invited…Are judges just weak? Overly permissive to hostile-aggressive parenting? Feeble windbags? Or are their brains infected with a world-view that is outmoded and out-of-touch with the realities of PA ‘on the ground’? Are there/should there be different rules according to the age of the child?